Manny S. Rizzuto

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The way we work has long influenced where we live and the type of home we buy. With an increasing number of companies warming up to the idea of remote work, we’re spending more time in our homes than ever before and it’s changing our criteria for when we shop for a new one. 

According to data analyst Treh Mangertz on a Zillow blog post:

“Nationwide, the typical starter home is currently valued at $131,740. But similar starter homes in 37 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas — home to the lion’s share of the country’s jobs — are more expensive than in the country at large, often by a wide margin...As a result, owning even a modest home (and taking advantage of the wealth-building opportunities that can bring) is out of reach for many households as long as they need to be within commuting distance of a physical workplace.”

But as the pandemic marches on, the possibility of remote work becomes more permanent each day. The restructuring or elimination of the daily commute has allowed renters to start contemplating other housing options. 

Zillow economist Jeff Tucker views remote work as a potential opportunity for a shift in the housing market. However, he also acknowledges that there are other factors outside of the commute to consider when it comes to deciding on a place of residence. In a statement for Zillow, Tucker said: 

“If remote work becomes a bona fide long-term option especially with the pandemic, that could reshape the U.S. housing market by opening up homeownership to people renting in expensive parts of the country. However, it's unclear how many people would make the move to buy their first home. Proximity to work is just one of the factors people consider when choosing where to live. Other factors may keep them from moving including proximity to friends and family, cultural and natural amenities, and their kids' schools.”

Finding some additional flexibility may be the only advantage that some renters need when it comes to becoming first-time homeowners. Because of this, many millennials are open to exploring potential moves if they can lock in the ability to work remotely long-term. Zillow has noted that if the rise of remote work proves to be a lasting trend, nearly 2 million renters could find themselves on the path to becoming homeowners.